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Review: Novation Bass Station II

July 1, 2014
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A new generation of analog monosynth

Fig. 1. The Bass Station II is an analog monosynth capable of creating vintage and modern timbres.

TWO DECADES after Novation released the original Bass Station, the company has re- imagined its classic synth in nearly every way (except price). In addition to an all- analog signal path, the Bass Station II adds a new filter topology, USB for data dumps and optional bus power, and effortless programmability. The result is an instrument capable of providing everything from gut- quaking basses to ear-splitting leads that will make it the go-to analog monosynth for modern music makers.

Start Your Engine The monophonic synth-engine kicks off with a generous Oscillators section, switchable between the two main oscillators. Provided are top-panel controls for pitch range, Coarse and Fine tuning, waveform selection, pulse width, and pitch modulation via LFO 1 and Mod Env. A crucial sub-oscillator has a three- waveform switch, and the Mixer blends the three oscillators with the other sources: a noise generator, ring mod, and the external 1/4-inch TRS audio input. External audio is sent through the filter and analog effects section, comprised of distortion and Osc Filter Mod, where Osc 2 modulates the filter frequency.

The Bass Station II has two filter types—the Classic Bass Station filter and the new Acid filter, an extra-squelchy diode-ladder— that can be set to lowpass, bandpass, or highpass with a 12 or 24dB slope. Besides the standard frequency and resonance controls, the filter also has a dedicated overdrive effect and the ability to be modulated by LFO 2 and the Mod Env.

The two LFOs have selectable waveforms and controls for Speed and Delay, while the ADSR sliders can control amplitude, modulation, or both. The Glide Time control lets you create a smooth and creamy portamento.

The Bass Station II's versatile arpeggiator gives you six pattern types, each of which can play back in 32 different rhythmic patterns. Turn on the Latch, hit some notes, and let the arpeggiator rip while you develop a new sound. This section also houses a 32-step sequencer, where you can store and playback up to four sequences.

Edit & Save The instrument's 70 preset patches mostly fall into the Bass, Lead, Organ, and Keys categories and amply demonstrate the Bass Station II's range—from light and airy ear candy to wobbly, distorted, wet, and crunchy bass and lead sounds. As nice as they are, you’ll quickly tweak them into a twisted new creation. Saving a patch—either to the same memory location or one of the 58 Init Patch locations—is just two presses of the Save button away.

Most of the synth parameters have 1-to-1 hardware controls, so it’s easy and gratifying to quickly beef up sounds. For extra programmability, the Function button lets you select parameters assigned to (and labeled above) each of the full-size synth- action keys, and then edit their values on the three-digit display. For example, you can edit the pitchbend range, Aftertouch response, mod wheel settings, MIDI channel, and other global settings.

Station to Station II With its excellent control set, easy programmability, USB connectivity, attractive price, and soul- shattering sound, the Bass Station II will make you forget about the good ol’ days and love living in the now.

SUMMARY

STRENGTHS: Thick, beefy, sound. Two filter types. Arpeggiator/sequencer. Velocity sensitivity. Aftertouch. Easily editable.

Limitations: Plastic chassis doesn't instill confidence.

$624.99 MSRP,
$499.99 street
novationmusic.com

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